10 Questions with Rachel Sweebe, Owner of Bridal Atelier Montclair
1) What did you do before you opened your salon?
I have spent my entire career in the fashion industry as a designer. I designed sportswear for large corporations and designed wedding gowns on the side.
2) What inspired you to open Bridal Atelier Montclair?
I designed and made my wedding gown when I got married, which lead to creating custom gowns for private clients. That work then led to a brief period where I produced my own wholesale bridal collection. Ultimately, these combined experiences inspired me to open the salon.
3) What is the mission of the salon?
Our mission is to bring a personal and intimate shopping experience to our brides that is unique to the area. We strive to offer a curated collection of unique and coveted designers.
4) Do you style every bride that purchases a dress from you?
For the most part, yes! We are, however, expanding our staff, so this will not be the case in every instance. I think it’s important for me to establish and set the standard for anyone coming on board.
5) How do you decide on which designers to carry?
I have followed the bridal industry for many years. My selections are a reflection of my personal taste, but also market trends. I have a great appreciation for fine fabrics, beautiful construction and impeccable fit. It’s important to me that what I value is represented in the salon.
6) What do brides in your area look for when shopping? Any trends?
It’s definitely a mix. These days I get a lot of requests for clean lines more than anything.
7) What type of venues do brides marry in? Local or destination?
My brides are definitely opting away from the traditional “wedding hall”. They preferspaces that are less conventional and that will help them in creating a unique experience for themselves and their guests. I have many local brides but we’ve also dressed brides who have had destination weddings in places like Italy, New Mexico and Turks and Caicos.
8) How do you keep brides shopping in your store vs online?
I think the best thing that we do is show them the value of working with a salon. The personalized experience, our expertise in fit, fabric, and customizations, plus being able to offer alterations services. All of these elements are critical to bringing our brides their dream dress.
9) Can the internet, technology and/or partnerships with designer help your business?
I think as an industry we have to be open and creative with how we do business. The bride, the way she shops, and the options available to her have changed immensely over the last 10 years. Store owners and designers have to listen and adjust accordingly, so yes, I think there can be benefits to these options.
10) What is the best piece of advice to give a bride when she is shopping for a dress?
Enjoy the process!